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Country kids abuzz in transformational barber program

Condobolin High School Barber Shop

Students from a school in Sydney's west have been teaching barbershop skills at a country school. (PR HANDOUT IMAGE PHOTO)

This article is by Stephanie Gardiner and was published by Blayney Chronicle on Sunday 28 May 2023. View the original article HERE

Two hairdressing chairs, light-up mirrors and a collection of scissors and clippers sit in the corner of a country school hall.

It may not sound like much, but to the boys at Condobolin High School this makeshift barber shop is a powerful symbol of possibility.

The set-up was donated by Granville Boys High students, who travelled 437km to western NSW last week to show Condobolin kids their renowned barber program, which teaches teenagers how to cut hair.

Granville Boys principal Noel Dixon said the program, which started at the school in Sydney's west in 2016, gives young men a sense of pride and shows them what they're capable of.

"In the old days, Granville used to be a tough school," Mr Dixon told AAP.

"Boys used to get approval from being the tough guy on the playground, now they get approval from being the cool guy who can cut everyone's hair.

"It gives them positive attention, a skill and an opportunity to make money for their families."

The Granville students held mufti days and sausage sizzles to raise about $3000 for Condobolin High's barber shop equipment.

During their two-day stay in the country, the Sydney teenagers and barber Charles Lomu taught the students how to use clippers, cut fade hairstyles, tidy up mullets and shave lines and designs.

Condobolin principal Wendy Scarce said the school of 205 was overwhelmed by the experience.

"It was like watching them fulfil a dream, it was just beautiful, it's why we do what we do," Mrs Scarce said.

"One of our young men, I've never seen him so enthralled, so focused and so engaged."

The connection between the schools began when the Granville pipe band played at the Condobolin Tattoo last year and the students got talking.

The country kids were excited about the barber shop, while the Sydney school hopes to host Condobolin High's Indigenous dance troupe.

The trip from the city to the bush was put off after the farming community of about 3000 endured prolonged flooding, after years marked by extreme drought and a mouse plague.

Mrs Scarce said the relationship with Granville has been transformational for rural students, who usually have to travel long distances and be away from their families to get extra opportunities.

"One of the parents said her son went home on Monday and hit her up for a $1500 pair of clippers and has the ambition to open a business," she said.

"Kids in rural and remote areas sometimes feel like there's a ceiling on their aspirations, so this was a really special moment."

In return, Mr Dixon said the Granville students got a warm country welcome and a glimpse of life outside the city.

"The boys will remember that for the rest of their lives."

Australian Associated Press